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This month, Read On Wisconsin titles offer a wide range of subjects, characters, genres, and languages across our age-level groups. Books for Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers include bilingual titles, Maya’s Blanket / La Manta de Maya and Squirrel Round and Round: A Bilingual Book of Seasons, in Spanish and Chinese for International Mother Language Day on February 21st.  Primary titles, New Shoes and Trapped!, while very different stories, illustrate how creative problem solving can help others. For Intermediate readers, Stella by Starlight and The Book Itch offer stories imbued with a love of words, family and community. Family, friends, and fate interweave around Valentine’s Day in the Middle School title, Goodbye Stranger. And, Printz Award-winning, Bone Gap, is a Midwestern fairy tale about strength, understanding, and kindness. 

Find descriptions, discussion questions or literacy activities, and resources for each title below by clicking on the book cover image. Find descriptions, discussion questions or literacy activities, and resources for each title below by clicking on the book cover image.

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Maya’s Blanket / La Manta de Maya by Monica Brown. Illustrated by David Diaz. Children’s Book Press / Lee & Low, 2015

Little Maya loves her manta (blanket), which was made by her abuelita. When the edges of the blanket fray from use, Abuelita helps Maya turn it into a vestido (dress). They later make the vestido into a falda (skirt), which they eventually sew into a rebozo (shawl), before turning it into a bufanda (scarf), and then a cinta (headband). When Maya gets her hair cut, she turns the cinta into a marcador de libros (bookmark). When she loses her bookmark, Maya realizes she can write the entire story down. And when she is grown with a little girl of her own, she tells that story to her. Based on a traditional Yiddish folk song, this lively contemporary story is grounded in Latino culture and told in both English and Spanish. Monica Brown’s engaging cumulative narrative seamlessly integrates Spanish words into the English text, defining them in context, while the cultural details and a wonderful, warm sense of family as Maya grows are brought into full visual relief in David Diaz’s richly hued illustrations that are both heartfelt and whimsical. Highly Commended, 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Share these early literacy activities with caregivers or add them in story time.

  • Talk: This book is in both English and Spanish. What other languages do you hear or speak?
  • Sing: Do you know any songs or poems in different languages? Sing one of these songs.
  • Write: Draw your favorite thing. Is it a blanket, pillow, or something else?
  • Play: Create a story about your favorite thing. Can you act out your story?
  • Math or Science: Make a blanket fort.

Squirrel Round and Round: A Bilingual Book of Seasons by Belle Yang. Candlewick Press, 2015

Squirrel Round and Round describes the changing landscape and activities of its inhabitants as a squirrel travels through the seasons of the year. The squirrel observes blooming camellias, noisy cicadas, ripe persimmons, and more as winter turns to spring then to summer and fall. The first frost and fresh tracks in the snow bring the squirrel back to winter. The book offers a rich vocabulary in English and Mandarin Chinese while attractive illustrations painted in impressionistic colors are simple yet detailed.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center.

Share these early literacy activities with caregivers or add them in story time.

  • Talk: What different animals live outside your house? Where do they live?
  • Sing: Listen for the sounds in your world. What sounds can you make? Do different languages make different sounds?
  • Write: Can you create Mandarin characters?
  • Play: Go outside and make some tracks.
  • Math or Science: How can you tell what season it is? Use all 5 senses.

Include some poetry: Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection: page 20 and Lullaby and Kisses Sweet: Firsts section

For more bilingual titles, try the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) bibliography, 50 Bilingual and Spanish/English Integrated Books, or search on the CCBC website.

Find more resources for Maya’s Blanket/La Manta de Maya and Squirrel Round and Round: A Bilingual Book of Seasons at TeachingBooks.net.

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New Shoes by Susan Lynn Meyer. Illustrated by Eric Velasquez. Holiday House, 2015

When Ella Mae, who’s always had hand-me-downs, goes shoe shopping for the first time, she’s eager to try on the pair of new saddle shoes she’d been eyeing in the window. But it turns out Black people aren’t allowed to try on shoes at the shoe store. Ella Mae’s mom traces Ella Mae’s foot on a piece of paper and they determine what size to buy based on the tracing. The experience diminishes the joy of new shoes for Ella Mae, but it also inspires her. She and a friend begin to do odd jobs for a nickel and a pair of outgrown shoes. They invest the money in polish and laces, scrub and shine the pairs they’ve collected, and invite anyone to come in and try them on before purchasing, asking for more old shoes as part of the price of payment to guarantee the goodwill can continue. A story set in the mid–20th century South underscores the unfairness of racism through a common childhood event. The story pulls no punches in describing how it feels to Ella Mae to be treated so unfairly. Ella Mae’s response is one that also underscores determination, generosity, and fairness. An author’s note provides additional historical context, as do the period illustrations.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Pre-Reading: What do you know about segregation?
  2. What happened in the shoe store? How do you think it made Ella Mae and her Mother feel?
  3. How do Ella Mae and her mother react to what happened in the shoe store?  What actions does Ella Mae take to change her experience of shoe shopping?
  4. How does the community benefit from Ella Mae’s and Charlotte’s creative solution?

 

Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue by Robert Burleigh. Illustrated by Wendell Minor. Charlesbridge, 2015

“The huge humpback whale dips and dives. Her sleek black sides shimmering, she spyhops, lobtails, flashes her flukes.” The whale becomes entangled in nets used for crab fishing. She struggles, tiring, before a team of divers arrives and embarks on a rescue mission. Will they free the whale in time to save her? Robert Burleigh’s tense, dramatic picture book narrative is based on an actual event that happened off the California coast in 2005. When the whale is finally freed, she swims past her rescuers and gently nudges each one, “as if saying thanks.” Wendell Minor’s gorgeous illustrations offer a variety of arresting perspectives of the whale and the divers in the sea in an account that concludes with additional information about the event on which it is based, as well as more about whales and whale rescues.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What roles do you think humans play in the whale’s story?
  2. How do you know whether or not the whale understands that the humans helped to free the whale?
  3. How do the illustrations show the difference between the whale feeling trapped and feeling free?
  4. What do you think are some of the words that the author uses to show the whale’s movement?

Find more great resources, including discussion guides, for New Shoes and Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue at TeachingBooks.net.

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Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper. Atheneum, 2015

After 11-year-old Stella and her little brother, Jojo, see the burning cross and the men in white, members of the African American community in their small North Carolina town gather at Stella’s house to discuss the danger, but the rhythm of life continues: The kids go to school, the adults go about their work. When Stella’s dad, the preacher, and a neighbor named Mr. Spencer register to vote—a decision made after careful consideration and tense debate—the retaliation is swift and awful: Mr. Spencer’s house is set on fire. But neighbors rally, including a few whites, to care for the family. This strong, resilient community graces Sharon Draper’s compelling story set during the Depression with a profound sense of comfort. So, too, do the finely drawn characters. Stella, her family, and most of her neighbors feel like friends one can count on in a story grounded in Stella’s perspective. In addition to the racism that is a daily and unsettling part of life, Stella is facing a much more personal challenge, working hard to get better at writing. Although it doesn’t come easily, she is driven to improve, and this portrait of an emerging writer beginning to understand the power of putting words and ideas on paper is notable and gratifying.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How is Stella’s life different from the lives of the kids who live in town?
  2. How is her father’s involvement in voting an act of bravery? Have you seen your parents vote?
  3. Describe the Stella’s community. How do the people in her community support one another?
  4. How does it make you feel to see Stella’s writing process throughout the story? How have you seen your writing progress throughout the school year?

The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Carolrhoda, 2015

Vaunda Micheaux Nelson revisits the topic of Lewis Michaux and the National Memorial African Bookstore that were the subject of her singular young adult novel No Crystal Stair, here introducing her great uncle and his Harlem store in a picture book told in the engaging fictionalized voice of Lewis Michaux’s son. Young Louie shares the history of the store, which his father could not get a bank loan to open because the banker believed “Black people don’t read.” And he shares a sense of the vibrant, vivid gathering place the store is, with its “zillion books” by Black people—African Americans, Africans—and others who aren’t white; with its many visitors from the famous (Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X) to the anonymous (the boy who spends every Saturday reading at the store); with its readings and rallies; a place of activism and action. Read to learn, his father tells him, and to learn how “to figure out for yourself what is true.” In the aftermath of Malcolm X’s death, Louie is comforted by his father’s reminder that “His words will never leave us.” And Louie thinks about the importance of words, and the importance of their bookstore as a place to find them in a picture book strikingly illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Nelson tells more about the store, which closed in 1975, and her personal connection, in end material that includes photographs and a bibliography. ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Pre-reading: Who was Malcolm X?
  2. Why do you think the author choose “Book Itch” as the title? What multiple meanings do you see for the word “itch” in the book?
  3. What do you think was the impact of the National Memorial African Bookstore in Harlem? In the United States? Why do you think so many famous people visited the National Memorial African Bookstore?
  4. Is there a message in the end-pages that speaks to you?
  5. After reading: How was Malcolm X different from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.? Why is each leader important?

Find discussion guides and more for Stella by Starlight and Book Itch at TeachingBooks.net!

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Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead. Wendy Lamb Books/Random House, 2015

The structure of Rebecca Stead’s novel is complex and the connections are deep and rich between characters and across several storylines as she examines friendship, family, and love. Bridge’s best friends are Emily and Tab. Seventh grade brings changes and challenges as Emily likes an older boy named Patrick, who may or may not be reliable, and there’s fallout when a picture Emily sends him is widely shared, illuminating a sexist double standard that Tab doesn’t hesitate to point out. Bridge is still occasionally plagued by nightmares from when she was hit by a car in third grade; an accident that her new friend Sherm Russo remembers, too, although Bridge doesn’t know it. Meanwhile, Bridge’s brother is on the verge of losing yet another bet with his closest-but-not-so-nice friend, and Sherm is ignoring texts from his grandfather, with whom he was close until he left Sherm’s grandmother months before. Finally there is Tab’s older sister, Celeste, whose betrayal of her new friend Gina’s confidence to her old friend Vinny, whose mean streak is getting worse, has her mortified. While the three younger girls manage to be true to themselves and one another, Celeste and Bridge’s brother are realizing that sometimes you have to let a friendship go in a novel full of truths that will resonate with readers.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What makes Bridge and Sherm’s relationship so strong?
  2. A nurse says to Bridge, “You must’ve been put on this earth for a reason, little girl…” How does that affect Bridge’s decisions and actions? What do you think your own purpose is?
  3. What issues and themes in this book make it real for middle school readers?

Find a complete discussion guide here! More resources for Goodbye Stranger available at TeachingBooks.net!

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Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins, 2015

Teenage Finn is the only person in Bone Gap who believes Roza, a young woman relatively new to town, was abducted. Finn is sure Roza was a prisoner in the car he saw her riding in, but he can’t describe the driver. Everyone else thinks he made up the story and was in love with Roza. In truth, Finn’s older brother Sean is the one in love with Roza, and Finn feels increasingly frustrated by Sean’s distant behavior and seeming lack of concern: Sean clearly assumes Roza left Bone Gap—and him—of her own accord. When the point of view of this exquisitely written novel switches to Roza, who is, indeed, being held prisoner, the story takes on the overtones of a thriller, one that slips into the realm of magical realism as Roza’s storyline develops. Defying all boundaries, Laura Ruby moves assuredly back and forth between small town life in Bone Gap, where Finn is marked by loss that precedes the present events and finds unexpected friendship and solace in a developing relationship with classmate Petey, and Roza’s ever-more-complex history and situation. Roza is strikingly beautiful. Petey is often seen as remarkable for her lack of beauty. Neither woman can be defined by her appearance—one of the story’s many points. Themes of small town life, family, loss, love, evil, beauty, sexuality, power and its abuse all resound in a story that can be read, among many ways, as a feminist fairy tale. (MS) ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What is the connection between the characters’ emotions and the magical events in the story?
  2. Discuss the difference between Finn’s and Sean’s reactions to Roza’s disappearance.
  3. Is beauty always a good thing? How does Finn’s condition affect his ability to find beauty?
  4. What parallels can you find between Roza and Persephone from the Greek myth?

Find teaching guides and other resources for Bone Gap at TeachingBooks.net and book discussion guide from Balzer + Bray.

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Playful Books for Learning: January 2017 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers

December 15th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | January - (Comments Off on Playful Books for Learning: January 2017 Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers)

big-and-smallBig and Small (Odd One Out) by Guido van Genechten. Translated from the Dutch. U.S. edition: Clavis, 2013

A pair of interactive board books will provoke all kinds of conversation with a delightful and increasingly challenging series of questions related to the illustrations. Each book features three questions on every double-page spread, two of them unique to the illustration, and one repeated across the spreads. In Odd One Out: Big and Small, the repeated question is “And who is ready to go to a party?” In Odd One Out: In, Out and All Around, it’s “And who is ready to go to a dance?” Each illustration features a different group of the same kind of animal. They are nearly identical, but the questions are designed to single several of them out. A page showing eight alligators asks “Who has lost all his teeth?” and “Who is long and who is short?” Young children can study the picture to find the answers. Identifying the one ready to go a party (or a dance) requires even closer observation as the clue to the repeated question is a small, black-and-white element added to the color illustrations (in this case, one of the alligators is wearing a crown). The growing challenge is due to the greater subtlety in the variations among the animals and/or the increase in the number shown on a spread (e.g., thirty almost identical hedgehogs). The final page spread shows the group of animals at the party and the dance, making it possible to go back and find those individuals in illustrations where the challenge may have been too great. Finding the answer is not always easy, but kids who love to pore over illustrations will find it a delight regardless.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Pass these early literacy activities onto caregivers or add them in story time.

  • Talk: What would you wear to a party?
  • Sing: Sing a favorite party song.
  • Write: Make your own handprint and other stamp art.
  • Play: Dance to your favorite song.
  • Math or Science: Count the types of animals in the book. How many can you find? Who’s biggest? Who’s smallest?

one-word-from-sophia

One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck. Illustrated by Yasmeen Ismail. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2015

Wonderful to read with The Pet Project and One Cool Friend!

Sophia has one true desire for her birthday. But she has Four Big Problems in the way: Mom, Dad, Uncle Conrad…and Grand-mama. Will her presentations, proposals, and pie charts convince them otherwise? Turns out, all it takes is one word.  From the publisher

Pass these early literacy activities onto caregivers or add them in story time.

  • Talk: What kind of pet would you like? What would you name your pet?
  • Sing: Sing a please and thank you song.
  • Write: Draw your favorite animal. Would this animal make a good pet?
  • Play: Pretend you have an unusual animal for a pet. What would you need to do to take care of this pet?
  • Math or Science: Your pet needs exercise. Draw a map of where you will take your pet on your walk.

More ideas and resources including a book trailer at Teach Mentor Texts

vincent paints his house

Vincent Paints His House by Tedd Arnold. Holiday House, 2015

When a Van Gogh-looking artist sets out to paint his house, he decides on the color white. The spider hanging from the eaves has another idea. “This is MY house, and I like red.” To which Vincent replies, “Red is nice.” But the caterpillar likes yellow, the beetle likes purple, the bird likes blue, and so on. Each time, Vincent affirms his appreciation for the new color and starts using it. The creatures are all helping paint, too. The end result is an Impressionistic display of color. “Everyone was happy!” This pleasing story has a simple text with a lot of repetition, and the added use of a large bold font makes it a great choice for beginning readers. The book’s final image of the house at night set against the swirl of a starry, starry sky is nothing if not perfect.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Pass these early literacy activities onto caregivers or add them in story time.

  • Talk: Take a walk around the block. What color houses can you find?
  • Sing: Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • Write: Draw a picture of where you live. What colors will you use?
  • Play: Build a house for a favorite toy out of boxes or blocks.
  • Math or Science: What happens when you mix colors? What colors can you make?

Include some poetry: Changes: A Child’s First Poetry Collection: page 22 and Lullaby and Kisses Sweet: Play section

Find more resources for Big and Small, One Word from Sophia and Vincent Paints His House at TeachingBooks.net

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Wonderful Stories for Cold Days: January 2017 Primary (K-2)

December 15th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Primary (Grades K-2) | January - (Comments Off on Wonderful Stories for Cold Days: January 2017 Primary (K-2))

Amazing storytelling, endearing characters and warm illustrations make these books favorites for many kids, parents, librarians and teachers.

finding winnieFinding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick.  Illustrated by Sophie Blackall.  Little, Brown, 2015

Honor Book, 2016 Charlotte Zolotow Award

Author Lindsay Mattick is the great-granddaughter of Harry Colebourn, the Winnipeg veterinarian who purchased an orphaned cub at a train station while on his way to service in World War I. Mattick’s unique perspective and engaging style (punctuated with plenty of humor) make for an irresistible narrative that includes herself and her young son, Cole, as characters as she tells what is clearly a familiar and much loved story to the little boy. Harry named the cub Winnipeg (soon shortened to Winnie) and she charmed everyone. Winnie was full of affection and exploits, and it was hard for Harry to imagine leaving her behind in England when word came his unit was leaving for the front. But he took Winnie to the London Zoo and it was there, years later, that a little boy named Christopher Robin Milne first saw her. The conversational style of Mattick’s narrative is finely crafted and utterly charming. So, too, are Sophie Blackall’s warm illustrations, which are finely detailed and emotionally expansive, emphasizing the bond between mother and son, and man, child, and bear. An album of photographs of Colebourn, Winnie, Christopher Robin, and Mattick and Cole round out this winsome volume. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion questions:

  1. Pre-reading: What do you know about a bear named Winnie?
  2. What are the three different stories in the book?
  3. How do the illustrations add to the story? Do they add information, emotions, and/or movement to the story?
  4. In what ways, do the author and illustrator use the photos in the scrapbook in the text and Illustrations?
  5. Who would be on your family tree?

first caseThe First Case by Ulf Nilsson. Illustrated by Gitte Spee.  Translated from the Swedish by Julia Marshall. (Detective Gordon) U.S. edition: Gecko Press, 2015

An engaging, character-driven mystery begins with an aging toad detective investigating the theft of nuts from a very upset squirrel. Detective Gordon can’t move as quickly or as easily as he once did. Then he meets a nameless mouse who is young and spry and eager and she quickly becomes his able assistant. First order of business: give her a name. He suggests one he’s always loved: Buffy. The interactions between Buffy–so bright and optimistic and open-hearted–and Detective Gordon–slightly world-weary but wise and buoyed by her presence—are warm and wonderful in a story full of understated humor punctuated by brighter, laugh-out-loud moments (often involving the squirrel). The duo inspects the scenes of the crime, gathers clues, conjectures based on what they’ve observed (clearly the suspect can climb trees, for example), then lays a trap and eventually capture the thieves. Beautiful design, including charming spot and full-page color illustrations, embellish a winning, winsome short chapter book. Add it to your read-aloud repertoire! (MS) ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Describe how Detective Gordon and Buffy are different from and similar to each other. Why do you think Detective Gordon and Buffy work well together?
  2. Why do you think Detective Gordon handed the squirrel the mirror?
  3. What rituals and routines does Detective Gordon eventually share with Buffy?

Find more resources for Finding Winnie and The First Case at TeachingBooks.net!

Perspective and Perseverance: January 2017 Intermediate

December 15th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | January - (Comments Off on Perspective and Perseverance: January 2017 Intermediate)

marvelsThe Marvels by Brian Selznick. Scholastic Press, 2015

Almost the first two-thirds of this hefty novel is told through black-and-white illustrations depicting generations of the Marvels, a theater family in England, from 1766 to 1900. A jump to 1990 begins the prose narrative in which Joseph, cold, wet, and sick, arrives on the doorstop of his Uncle Albert’s Victorian home in London after running away from boarding school. He doesn’t really know Uncle Albert, but Joseph’s parents are traveling outside the country, so he stays. Uncle Albert’s neighbor, a girl named Frankie, strikes up a friendship with Joseph, and the two of them begin trying to string together information about a famous theater family, the Marvels, who clearly once lived in the house, which is a living museum in their honor. There are personal belongings and even letters to be found in rooms that are staged like tableaus. Uncle Albert won’t talk about them, which makes Joseph and Frankie even more curious: How are the Marvels connected to Uncle Albert, and to Joseph? When finally revealed, the answer is bitter for Joseph. But for Joseph and for readers, too, it becomes bittersweet, and then wonderful, a tribute to the power of story, and the gifts of imagination, friendship, and love. Brian Selznick moves back and forth between prose and visual narrative in the final third of a novel that concludes with an extensive and fascinating author’s note about the two men and the house that were the real-life inspiration for the story.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How do Joseph’s actions affect his uncle’s life?
  2. How does perspective in the illustrations help tell the story? (Distance: close-up and far away)
  3. How do the different characters deal with death?
  4. Brian Selznick chose to tell this story in alternating illustrations and prose, or text. Why do you think he uses both mediums? What story do each of these mediums tell? Why do you think he alternates between the illustrations and the text?

irasshakespearedreamIra’s Shakespeare Dream by Glenda Armand. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Lee & Low, 2015

Ira Alridge’s dream of performing Shakespeare was difficult for a young African American man to achieve in early 19th-century America. Despite his obvious talent, his father urged him to forgo acting and put his vocal skills to use as a minister. Instead, Ira became a cabin boy on a cargo ship heading to South Carolina, where he narrowly escaped being sold into slavery. Ira signed on as a valet to British actors James and Henry Wallack for their voyage home. Once in England, he worked in theaters running errands and as an understudy, all while studying acting. His perseverance paid off, and by the 1840s he was considered “one of the most celebrated Shakespearean actors in Europe.” He spoke out against slavery in the U.S. and encouraged audience members to financially support abolitionists. Oil wash illustrations employ warm earth tones and soft edges to follow the evolution of Alridge’s career from eager school boy to mature professional, a welcome account.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Pre-reading question: Who was Shakespeare?
  2. How does perseverance help Ira achieve his dream?
  3. What problems does Ira want to solve by acting?
  4. Find examples in the story of individuals who take chances on Ira and protect him along the way.

Find teaching guides and other resources for The Marvels and Ira’s Shakespeare Dream at TeachingBooks.net.

Get Kids Talking with These Books! January 2017 Middle School

December 15th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Middle School | January - (Comments Off on Get Kids Talking with These Books! January 2017 Middle School)

fatal feverFatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary by Gail Jarrow. Calkins Creek/Highlights, 2015

Sanitary engineer and chemist George Soper functioned as a “germ detective” in the early 20th century. After a typhoid outbreak in Ithaca, New York, in 1903 infected local residents and Cornell University students, Soper tracked the contamination source to a creek and recommended better practices in outhouse siting and maintenance, as well as construction of a city water filtration plant. When six members of the Thompson family of New York City fell ill with typhoid in the summer of 1906, the family hired Soper. Through a meticulous process of elimination Soper determined that a cook, Mary Mallon, was the most likely source of the bacteria. When public heath doctor Sara Josephine Baker tracked down Mary Mallon, aka Typhoid Mary, Mallon refused to believe she carried typhoid. Mallon’s case became a civil rights issue when she was quarantined against her will on Brother’s Island off the coast of Manhattan. Finally released if she promised not to work again as cook, she was returned to the island after another typhoid outbreak was traced to her. She lived there the rest of her life, even as it was acknowledged she was surely far from the only typhoid carrier in the city. Soper’s rigorous methodology, Baker’s doggedness, and Mary Mallon’s unfortunate story illustrate the confluence of science, detective work, and social attitudes during the early decades of the 20th century. This captivating, well-researched volume is augmented by numerous photographs and back matter that includes source notes, a timeline, and bibliography. (MVL) ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. How was Mary Mallon treated fairly? unfairly? Why?
  2. What would a germ detective like George Soper be investigating today?
  3. This story was told from a medical perspective. Whose side or perspective of the story would you like to hear?

orbitingjupiterOrbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt. Clarion, 2015

Jack is in sixth grade when his parents bring a foster child to their small farm in Maine. Fourteen-year-old Joseph is from an abusive background and got into trouble for attacking a teacher. He is also a father, of a baby girl named Jupiter whom he’s never met. A chronic runaway from juvenile detention placements, Joseph arrives withdrawn and uncommunicative. Taking his cue from how the farm’s cows respond to Joseph, Jack is loyal to his foster brother from the first day they go to school together. While most of the kids and teachers assume Joseph is bad news, a few look deeper and see a boy who is smart and kind, but deeply hurt. Eventually Joseph learns to trust Jack and his parents enough to share his whole story. How he met 13-year-old Madeleine and how the time they spent together was solace from the rest of his painful life. How Madeleine ended up pregnant and was sent away. How she died but the baby lived. Now Joseph is aching to see his daughter, who is in foster care with her status in limbo because Joseph’s father—a volatile and violent man—will not sign off on the papers allowing adoption. Hauntingly real characters and disciplined writing that maintains a tight and true emotional core centers Joseph’s dramatic tragedy within Jack’s perspective.  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. What challenges would an 8th grader face if he or she was a parent?
  2. How do the adults in Joseph’s life help him? How did the adults hold him back?
  3. How do you feel about the conclusion of this book?

Find more resources for Fatal Fever and Orbiting Jupiter from TeachingBooks.net.

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Timely and Resonant: January 2017 High School

December 15th, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | High School | January - (Comments Off on Timely and Resonant: January 2017 High School)

all american boysAll American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book / Atheneum, 2015

Coretta Scott King Book Awards, Author Honor, 2016

Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature, 2016

Authors Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely put the issues of police bias and violence against Blacks and white privilege front and center in this novel that alternates between the voices of high school students Rashad Butler and Quinn Collins. African American Rashad is brutalized by a white police officer who makes a snap judgment of a scene and assumes Rashad was harassing a white woman and stealing at a neighborhood store where he’d gone to buy potato chips. Quinn, who is white, shows up as handcuffed Rashad is being pummeled by the cop on the sidewalk outside. The officer is his best friend’s older brother, a man who has been like a father to Quinn since his own dad died in Afghanistan. In the aftermath of the beating, hospitalized Rashad deals with pain and fear, and his family with fear and anger and tension, especially between Rashad’s older brother, Spoony, and their ex-cop dad. As the story goes viral, Quinn is feeling pressure to support Paul but can’t stop thinking that what Paul did to Rashad is wrong. He begins to realize that saying nothing—he slipped away from the scene before he was noticed—is also wrong. Silence, he realizes, is part of the privilege of being white, and it’s part of the problem of racism, something too few are willing to acknowledge, including school administrators and some teachers in the aftermath. Rashad and Quinn and their classmates are singular, vivid characters—kids you feel you might meet in the halls of just about any school in a novel that is both nuanced and bold as it explores harsh realities and emotional complexities surrounding race in America. ©2015 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:

  1. Why did the authors write this book together? Does it make a difference that one author is Black and one is White?
  2. Both Quinn and Rasheed feel powerless in their situations. What do they do to gain control of their lives again? Who influences each of them most?
  3. In this novel, characters need to decide how they are going to react to Rasheed’s beating. At what point is doing nothing actually choosing a side?

Find more resources for All American Boys at TeachingBooks.net.

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December 2016 Titles: End this Year, Start the New Year Sharing Great Books!

November 22nd, 2016 | Posted by etownsend in 2016-2017 | Babies, Toddlers and Preschoolers | Primary (Grades K-2) | Intermediate (Grades 3-5) | Middle School | December | High School - (Comments Off on December 2016 Titles: End this Year, Start the New Year Sharing Great Books!)

Whether celebrating the arts, the seasons, community, family, friends or ourselves, the ROW December 2016 titles are great books to read and discuss. Check them out below. Find discussion questions here and other resources at TeachingBooks.net!

global baby bedtimes

waiting

happy in our skin small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

song within my hearthanahashimotoweb

dragons beware small

winter-bees

 

friends-for-life

this-one-summer

girls-like-us

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